China drives smartphone boom

25 September 2012

BEIJING: Around two-thirds of the 160m smartphone sales in emerging markets made during 2011 took place in China, according to a new report.

The study, Smartphones in Emerging Markets: Shifting Landscape, from telecoms analyst Ovum, also found that 450m smartphones were sold globally in 2011. The sector is forecast to continue its rapid expansion, with sales forecast to rise 378% to 1.7bn in 2017.

The proportion sold in emerging markets is projected to increase from 35% to 57% over the same period. By 2017, China is predicted to account for 17% of global smartphone shipments.

Shiv Putcha, the author of the report, said: "China is at the centre of smartphone development and adoption in emerging markets, with the whole ecosystem increasingly geared toward the production of ever-more feature-rich affordable devices."

The issue of affordability has held back the market's growth. But Ovum suggested that thisissue  is being addressed as phone manufacturers take advantage of falling barriers to entry, thanks to chipset and platform providers making reference designs available to OEMs.

An entry-level, sub-$100 segment is developing, with mobile operators, which have not subsidised phones, now offering but cheaper ‘white-labelled' smartphones.

"This new wave of affordable smartphones will have a major impact on consumer choice in emerging markets," said Putcha.

As well as China, Ovum expects strong growth in India and Indonesia, followed by Brazil and Russia.

He also noted that a corresponding development will be "growth in online services such as cloud, storage, and purchasing based on mobile money transactions."

Data sourced from Business Standard/Ovum; additional content by Warc staff